Men’s 4X400 in hunt for NCAA title after school record qualifying run
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Nittany Lion men’s 4×400-meter quartet of Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.), and Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.) proved they’re in the hunt for an NCAA title, running a sizzling school-record 3:01.52 in qualifying on Thursday (June 7) evening at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium.
Running with a spot in the NCAA Final on the line, the Nittany Lions wasted no time in getting in the thick of the race, led off by a split of 46.6 from Nadolsky. Bennett-Green followed up with a blistering carry of 44.8, bringing the Nittany Lions within striking distance of front-running squads from LSU and Mississippi State. Loxsom kept the Lions in the mix, running 45.6 before turning baton over to Gehret on the anchor.
With the Tigers out at a furious pace on the closing carry, Gehret bided his time, turning on a sensational kick in the last 150-meters to bring the Lions from third to first, thanks to an official split of 44.22. The Lions’ 3:01.52 was the fastest time of the day, just ahead of LSU at 3:01.97. The Nittany Lions’ heat was easily the fastest of the evening, with Mississippi State finishing in 3:02.16 – the third-fastest time in qualifying.
The Penn State contingent annihilated their previous school record of 3:03.57 – set less than two weeks ago at the NCAA First Round. In fact, the performance is tops among NCAA programs this spring, and ranks fifth in the world this year.
Also competing on the track on Thursday was the Nittany Lion women’s 4×400 of Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname), and Dynasty McGee (Ypsilanti, Mich.), which finished 14th overall in 3:33.03 – just .01 of their season-best performance.
Representing the Nittany Lions on the field events on the afternoon was sophomore Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.), who earned her second-straight USTFCCCA Second Team All-America finish. Kurzdorfer placed 12th overall in the women’s hammer competition in her second-straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The sophomore, who was the runner-up in the event at the Big Ten Championships, turned in her best toss of the afternoon on her second attempt, with a throw of 199-7 (60.84).
Kurzdorfer joins teammates Loxsom and Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) on the All-America Second Team, as Loxsom and Simko both earned top 16 finishes in yesterday’s 800-meter preliminaries. Earning First Team honors on Wednesday were sophomore Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.) and freshman Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.), who provided a three-four finish in the women’s javelin.
Action in Des Moines continues on Friday, with Gehret set to run the 400-meter final at 6:55 p.m. CDT.